Mowi relocates two "sensitive" Scottish inshore farm sites
Plans to relocate two salmon farming sites to locations “more appropriate for modern-day aquaculture” have been shared by Mowi Scotland.
The company’s Loch Ewe and Loch Duich sites have been identified for relocation due to the enclosed nature of the sea lochs where the farms are situated and the sites’ proximity to sensitive wild salmonid habitats.
“Mowi has strived to improve relations with the wild fish sector and has been clear that it will seek to expand its operations in Scotland, whilst securing reduced impact on the environment and further developing the significant economic contribution that it makes to rural Scotland,” Ben Hadfield, managing director of Mowi Scotland, said. “In absence of a regulatory framework that enables relocation of a farm’s biomass, we are wanting to engage with our government, environmental groups and salmon fishery boards to pursue this opportunity. The sites will be closed permanently conditional to the support from our regulatory system to transfer the biomass to other locations, and to sustainably expand our production in the best possible areas for salmon farming, thus protecting the associated jobs.”
Mowi wants to align its growth plans with the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Economy & Connectivity Committee’s (RECC) recent recommendations and has plans to sustainably grow its fish production levels over the next few years by expanding into new high-energy farming areas located further offshore, explained Stephen MacIntyre, Mowi’s head of environmental management.
Released in the fall of 2018, the RECC report recommended that the Scottish government discussed the potential to minimize risk to wild salmon and to improve the locations of existing farms and grow production in a sustainable way with salmon farm companies.
“We welcome Mowi’s recognition that enclosed sea lochs near to sensitive wild salmonid habitat can increase localized impact on wild salmonids,” Bill Whyte, convener for Wester Ross Area Salmon Fishery Board, said. “We will expect further clarity about the process of biomass relocation, however, if Mowi can provide evidence through EIA (environmental impact assessment) planning and SEPA (Scottish Environment Protection Agency) regulatory structure that the relocated biomass will have reduced potential impact on wild migratory fish, then we would be prepared to support biomass relocation on a conditional basis.”
Mowi has spoken to farm staff at both locations to assure them their employment can continue with the company at other new or expanded locations.
“Our ambition is to close contentious locations, jointly working with wild fishery managers. We will create increased employment and retain our experienced and dedicated staff, and we will work with west coast Scottish communities to release all the value from farming Mowi salmon in the best possible locations,” Hadfield said. “Success for this relocation initiative will be a net increase in production, a net increase in export value for Scotland and a net reduction in our environmental footprint at sensitive locations. Scotland’s potential exit from the EU is challenging for us, and as a major and growing employer in the country, we will do our utmost to retain and develop our experienced staff.”